Criminal - White Hell
Massacre Records
Melodic Death/Thrash Metal
12 songs (50:09)
Release year: 2009
Criminal, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Thomas

Even though this is a relatively new band to me, Criminal have been around for fifteen years now and have released six albums, seven including this which is due in the end of February. They signed with major label BMG in their early years and got much airplay on radio and TV, as well as selling over 20’000 copies of their first two records. Growing popular pretty quick, they’ve shared stages with high caliber-bands such as Kreator, Slayer and Testament. After their early success, the band went through some line-up changes, the music got more experimental before they returned to their thrashy roots, and Sicario even got on Terrorizers top ten albums of 2005. As you can probably tell, it was with a certain anticipation I approached White Hell, and even though it’s not as good as I thought it would be, it’s definitely a worthwhile listen.

My main problem with this is that they’re desperately trying to sound more brutal than they actually are. The vocals are good, but Anton Reisenegger doesn’t resist the temptation of going into the territory of deeper growls where he does not sound anywhere near as good as he does in the higher registers. He tends to drive otherwise great songs into mediocrity, however, his Anders Fridèn-y snarls dominates everything when they’re let loose and does easily make for a highpoint. 21st Century Paranoia tears it up for starters, and Crime and Punishment axes its way through barren, scaled fields, as the riffs bursts out on command with entertaining variation and a deep rumbling sound. The chaotic and ripping yet well-played leads are carefully placed and fit the riffs like a glove. The crushing rhythm-work is bombastic and pleasing, and creates a solid backbone. The music does take some occasional dips in quality, and I have to admit that towards the end this turns into a puddle of blurry mud. The songs flow together, and my attention slips every now and then, even though the songs are all pretty good. As I stated earlier in the review, the main problem seems to be the vocals, as I can’t adapt to the, in all honesty, shittyness of his layered over the sometimes awesome riffs here. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that this is so modern today, and the fact that every other band does this kind of thing nowadays, ruins some of the fun.

This does definitely not appeal to everyone. Firstly it takes some time getting into, and secondly you may not even learn to appreciate every element of this band. If you’re looking for new and inventing modern metal, look elsewhere, and if you’ve had some bad experiences with harsh vocals before, you shouldn’t bother looking into this. This is not brutal and not half as aggressive as they try to be. However, they (and by they I mean the guitarists) churn out a qualified amount of riffs loaded with heavy ammunition. They’re slightly groovy, and immediately grab your attention with their furious speed and aggression. There are however little, aside from the vast amount of good vocal work, to back it all up, and this fits more as background music in the car than something you’ll put on to satisfy your needs. Recommended for fans of thrashy melodic death metal, who might like this better than I do. This is by no means bad, just not as good as I expected it to be, while definitely something I’ll survive listening to and wouldn’t mind spinning on any occasion.

Killing Songs :
21st Century Paranoia, Crime and Punishment, Eyes of Temptation
Thomas quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Criminal that we have reviewed:
Criminal - No Gods No Masters reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 79 / 100
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:21 am
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